Moose viewing is similar to whale watching and celebrity stalking, in that you always hear about how so-and-so saw this-and-that the day before — but never on the day that you’re on critter patrol. Ed, whose record day yielded 28 moose, mentioned, for example, the wife of a couple from New York who came face to face with the lumbering beast while she was using nature’s toilet. How embarrassing — for the moose. More recently, a man parked on the side of the road shouted through his open window that he’d spotted a cow, a calf and a bull . . . yesterday. Well, I wanted to retort, I saw a moose the day before, too, in the Manchester, N.H., airport. Moreover, the steel statue was made by a sculptor who’d encountered a bull in the woods.
As for a real moose, it was my turn. I knew it. I could read the tea leaves in the snow. As we drove up to Moosehead Lake, into the towns of Greenville and Kokadjo (population “not many”) and around the Roach Ponds (seven in all), Ed and I found clear evidence of their presence. First, we discovered a set of prints across the street from the Department of Transportation, whose hillocks of winter salt draw the four-legged diners as well as two-footed gawkers who park along the side of the road. We also noticed the pitter-patter of moose feet on a section of Lily Bay Road, logging territory that also goes by the nickname “Moose Corridor.”
“That’s a virtual salad for the moose to come eat,” Ed said of a tasty toss of branches and greens.
Despite the signs of a small stampede on the ground, the northern Maine setting was still and naptime quiet. When a critter did make an appearance, I would bounce with excitement, thrilled to see any member of the animal kingdom, even those on the bottom rungs. I pointed crazily at a chipmunk and, when two black birds swooped overhead, Ed emitted a yelp of “Yippee, crows.”
Although moose don’t have a designated lunch hour, Ed did. On an empty road bordered by bushy trees, he pulled out a cooler stocked with ham-and-cheese sandwiches, apples, Christmas cookies and a mug of hot cocoa. He grabbed a sandwich and wandered over to the edge of the woods, incapable of turning off his tracking device.
While he followed the hops of a snowshoe hare, I pointed my beagle nose in the other direction, toward two pairs of moose prints. The impressions belonged to a mom and a calf, strolling down the snowy lane together, big beside little. I pressed my own boot prints into the wintry carpet as I walked down the lane with a moose on either side.
Details: Moose safari in Maine